How to Put Your Heart and Soul into Your Speech
One thing is guaranteed to make your audience glue themselves to your presentation, and that is passion. Nothing beats authenticity, but not everybody who is authentic is going to strike a chord in the hearts of the audience members. Why is passion so crucial to authenticity?
We know there are conventions in speechmaking, and a myriad of advice about what to wear, where to put your hands, how to move your eyes around the audience, and how to vary the volume of your voice.
We know there are gimmicks – things you can do to grab the audience’s attention. These would be pratfalls, eye-catching props, or calling volunteers up to the stage. They can be sincere, but are nonetheless conventions of speech making.
And we all know about removing distractions, such as avoiding our personal twitches, the word “uh,” and our own repetitious catch phrases.
Nothing trumps authenticity.
But even authenticity isn’t enough. If you’re authentically bored, your audience probably will be too. Not all of them will become as bored as you, and in fact some people may actually find it refreshing. But generally speaking, the audience does more than hear you and watch you. The audience can actually feel your energy. And that’s why you need to contribute your heart and soul.
I was watching a woman give a speech one time and in part of that speech, she had to tell a personal story to illustrate her point. It was a personal tragedy, and the whole point of the speech was to show the audience that you can make something positive out of tragedy.
About halfway through the story, I could tell that the woman was beginning to lose control. As I watched, her words became choked off and she started to lose volume. In order to keep herself from crying, she would stop and start, stop and start. Hardly good composure, but gripping nonetheless, as we couldn’t even tell if she would make it through the story.
As she reached the end, she was shaking and tears were streaming down her face. She paused, and then began speaking again, very slowly. As she then told how she used this tragedy to build a charitable foundation, there were tears in my eyes and I felt the same was happening to the other attendees.
Her courage was authentic. The grief was authentic, and so was the passion for her foundation. As she closed, you could see the visible relief in her demeanor and feel it in the way she began to breathe. The audience stood up and clapped enthusiastically. Many cheered, and some were wiping their eyes. As a influential communication coach, I am acutely aware that: Her passion had caused the audience to feel. It evoked emotion and Emotion is the key.
She not only wowed the audience, but probably found more donors for her cause that night. Not because she did or didn’t say “uh,” use the right tone, or stand up straight, but because she spoke with authentic passion and it was totally visible through her energy, body language and tonality.